Monthly Archives: January 2013

Non nobis, Domine

Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
but to your Name give glory;
because of your love and because of your faithfulness.

Why should the heathen say,
“Where then is their God?”

Our God is in heaven;
whatever he wills to do he does.
(Psalm 115:1-3)

In his first “sign” at the wedding in Cana, Jesus deflects attention away from himself.

First, it’s a son’s normal reaction because his mom is pressuring him to do something: “What is it to you? My time has not yet come.” And even when Jesus does “whatever he wills to do” and changes the water into wine, the steward doesn’t know who did it, so he gives praise instead to the bridegroom for saving the best wine for last.

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your Name give glory.

In Jesus, John and the other Gospel writers see the glory of God revealed, “the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Though Jesus does point to himself in the signs, especially those that follow this first one, what he’s really doing is pointing to God. “No one has ever seen God,” writes John. “It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known” (John 1:18).

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your Name give glory.

We’re meant to follow in Jesus’ footsteps as his Body here on earth, sharing his forgiveness and healing power with those around us, and making known God’s love and faithfulness.

Morning and evening (at least) we’re also meant to give “Glory to God, whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever” (BCP 102, 126).

Joy and peace to all

For as the new heavens and the new earth,
which I will make,
shall remain before me, says the Lord;
so shall your descendants and your name remain.
From new moon to new moon
and from sabbath to sabbath,
all flesh shall come to worship before me,
says the Lord. (Isaiah 66:22-23)

One of the Principal Feasts of the church year, the Epiphany celebrates the “Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles,” as our Prayer Book calendar calls it (BCP 31). The wise men stand in for the whole Gentile world (that is, all of us) as they see and recognize in the child Jesus the promised salvation of the world.

Listen to one of the prayers for mission that we commonly use at Evening Prayer:

“O God and Father of all, whom the whole heavens adore: Let the whole earth also worship you, all nations obey you, all tongues confess and bless you, and men and women everywhere love you and serve you in peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (BCP 124)

Christ’s coming is for all, not just for the Jews, not just for the Orthodox or the Catholics, not just for the Lutherans or the Presbyterians or the Calvinists, not just for the Anglicans or the “real” Anglicans, not just for my parish or for yours, but for all.

Our religious tendency toward exclusivity does not serve God’s purpose of bringing light to all — to the whole earth, all nations, all tongues, men and women everywhere.

In the readings appointed for this Eve of the Epiphany, Isaiah points toward that future day when all flesh will worship God together, and Paul prays on behalf of the Romans (Gentiles like us): “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit” (BCP 126).

“All joy and peace.” Joy and peace to all. That’s a fitting note on which to begin our worship this Epiphany.

Crossing over and abiding

Icon of Joshua by St. Isaac of Syria Skete

Icon of Joshua by St. Isaac of Syria Skete

Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to your ancestors to give them …. I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:6,9)

In this morning’s Old Testament lesson, Joshua is preparing to lead the people of Israel across the River Jordan into the Promised Land. God tells Joshua to “be strong and courageous” and reassures him that he will be with him.

Similarly, in the Gospel reading appointed for today, Jesus is speaking to the disciples at the Last Supper as he prepares to “cross over” through his death on the cross.

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you,” Jesus says; “abide in my love” (John 15:9). Jesus reassures the disciples in much the same way as God had reassured Joshua.

We, too, can receive God’s reassurance and a sense of his abiding presence in our lives — by doing just what Joshua and the disciples did.

God says to Joshua: “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it” (Joshua 1:8).

“This is my commandment,” says Jesus to the disciples, “that you love one another as I have loved you … I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father” (John 15:12,15). We read in the book of Acts that the disciples did just what Jesus told them to.

Their abiding love, their joy at having “crossed over” with Jesus into new life, was visible to the Roman society in which the church began to grow. Tertullian (c. 200 AD) wrote about Roman society and how they saw the early Christians: “‘Look,’ they say, ‘how they love one another’ (for they themselves hate one another); ‘and how they are ready to die for each other’ (for they themselves are readier to kill each other)” (Apology 39.7).

Cross over (with God’s help) into the new life Christ has pioneered, and abide in friendship with him.

A tithe of your time

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in the way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, will be God’s house; and of all that you give me I will surely give one-tenth to you.” (Gen. 28:20-22)

Earlier this week, I got into a conversation with a blogger named David Rosendahl regarding how we spend our time. He had done a time study and was reflecting on how little time it seemed he was devoting to “spiritual” things in relation to his work.

I commented that it actually seemed like he was tithing his time — that is, his study reveals that he spends about 10% as much time on spiritual things as he does on work. I also suggested that it’s important to consider whether the time you tithe is “first fruits,” time deliberately set aside for God rather than an afterthought.

In my case, I am typically awake for at least 12 hours each day, so a tithe of my time would be one hour and 20 minutes. Saying Morning Prayer and writing these reflections usually takes about an hour each morning; perhaps I still need to stretch a little and more regularly devote 20 minutes each day for Evening Prayer.

What might it look like for you to tithe your time? If you already do, how might you need to make sure you are giving of your “first fruits” to God?

Get your motor running

Singing Daily Office SSJE

I will be leaving shortly and driving all day today to get to meetings in Indianapolis.

Before enjoying my normal road fare of classic rock and audiobooks, I like to listen to Morning Prayer as it is prayed by the Society of St. John the Evangelist on their CD entitled Singing the Daily Office.

In addition to the services of Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Evening Prayer and Compline, the 2-CD set includes 20 minutes of plainchant hymns that the SSJE brothers sing at their monastery in Cambridge, MA. I’ve also copied my CD onto iTunes so the services and hymns are available for me to listen to anywhere.

Listening in the car like I will today not only allows me to “keep my eyes on the road / my hands upon the wheel” as Jim Morrison might put it, but it also helps me to hear the psalms, canticles, readings, and prayers of the Office in voices other than my own.

When you pray the Daily Office alone, you may fall into the habit of rushing through certain prayers or canticles. Listening to them may remind you to slow down, to observe the speed limit, to enjoy the scenery.